NASA News: Curiosity Mars Rover Gets Mind Of Its Own; Can Choose Its Own Laser Targets

There is a new software that specifically addresses the need scientists have to identify signs of life on the Red Planet. Featuring the innovation and technology that is in NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, the Journey to Mars could just be made easier.

Currently, Curiosity is almost always used for selecting targets every week for a laser and a telescopic camera. These are the components utilized in the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.

Targets that are taken from the ChemCam are being chosen by scientists wherein rocks or soil viewed in the images are being discussed. However, a new capability had been installed to upgrade the accuracy of these images.

As reported by NASA, during the duration of Curiosity's stay on Mars, ChemCam has scrutinized several points on more 1,400 targets by identifying the plasmas' color spectrum that is made when laser pulses zap a target.


NASA's 2011 Software of the Year Award, the upgrading of the AEGIS (Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science) software had brought about numerous opportunities of getting evidence on how life is on the Red Planet. Usually, it is used as software to examine images from a wide-angle camera. This is then used to independently choose rocks to take a picture of using a narrower-angle camera.

Usage of AEGIS helps the team go forward with planning on operations on the following days as per assessment done on the rover's surroundings. This is made possible by using the onboard computer analysis of images from Navcam short for Navigation Camera which is Curiosity's stereo.

ChemCam Science Operation Lead Olivier Gasnault, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), of France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse, France said, "AEGIS brings an extra opportunity to use ChemCam, to do more, when the interaction with scientists is limited. It does not replace an existing mode, but complements it. It does not replace an existing mode, but complements it.

The convenience brought about by this software has aided in getting things done for the exploration on Mars.

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